Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson brandished a smoked kipper as he rallied against EU red tape. The herring illustrates good reason why Britain must leave the European Union once and for all, he said.
British tabloid the Daily Express gave a vacuum-packed smoked herring to Johnson as he was about to address the crowd of Tories in London on Wednesday. The paper said the fish was mailed to them by a kipper-smoker from the Isle of Man, a Crown dependency, who claimed that the EU adds sizable costs to his business by demanding that fish is sold in a cooling package.
An ardent Brexiteer, Johnson used the herring to denounce Brussels’ regulatory policy and illustrate why Britain must stay committed to leaving the European Union. He retold the story of a “furious” smoker, while blasting the EU for “damaging regulatory overkill.”
Why does a kipper from the Isle of Man need to be told by the EU that he has to provide a pillow of ice with every kipper?
“It’s an unnecessary cost. And what are you supposed to do with the pillow of ice? How do you dispose of it?” Johnson told the audience as he was brandishing the fish.
He showcased the ice-filled cooling package as well, calling it “pointless, expensive, [and] environmentally damaging.”
Johnson’s claims were immediately called into question. British media pointed out that the Isle of Man is not a part of the EU, so rules issued by Brussels should not be applied to fish exported from there. The European Commission’s food safety spokesperson Anca Paduraru told reporters that “the case described by Johnson falls outside the scope of EU legislation and is purely a UK national competence.”
EU bureaucracy and red tape is often used by Brexiteers and Eurosceptic politicians in attacks against Brussels. This issue was prominently featured in the Leave campaign during the Brexit vote in 2016. Among the examples often brought up are EU regulations on the shape and packaging of fruit and vegetables. According to some estimates, the red tape alone costs British businesses £33 billion a year.
The EU maintains that the claims of red tape are exaggerated and in some cases are outright “euromyths.”
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